75 - Advice

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Sowing the seeds of good future, growth and beauty...

I'm trying to start living my life by the sort of information or advice I'd give to my children. I often find I'm telling them things and wondering why I don't live by the idea or concept myself.

You need to go to sleep now I say, it's eight. Whyyyyyy mama? she says. Why can't I just stay up a leeeetle bit longer? Because to be healthy you need to get lots of sleep I say (it's a potted version of a much bigger answer but I figure on a four year old it'll do). Half past two in the morning I finally make it to bed after packing lots of orders up. Silly (hypocritical) mama.

We become wise beyond our means when someone else's life depends on it yet unable to furnish ourselves with the same love, attention and knowledge (and often, compassion). Be kind to yourself, sow the seeds of wisdom in your own soul that you would impart on your children. Go to bed early, sometimes.

74 - Words

Friday, November 27, 2015

Quite often I find myself wanting to share something. Some choice idea or words of wisdom, some train of thought or words that popped into my head. That's usually where they stay, in my head. I become overwhelmed by the idea of finding time to "blog" because in my mind "blogging" has to be carefully thought out words and some pretty fancy imagery to go with, and so I end up not sharing anything.

I took a long walk this morning rather than my eight minute (six on a "good" day) walk/rush from school to work and I had an epiphany ("ten minutes over at Elton John's and you're..." - enough Love Actually quoting...).

You see, in my head, the swirly space where all of my thoughts run around as if in the Large Hadron Collider, crashing together, sometimes forming something beautiful, sometimes doing nothing at all, "blogging" and by default "bloggers" are taste makers or tellers, they tell people who and what to like and what's hip right now. I guess in my head they are a bit like the mean girls in high school that thrive on being ring leaders with minions who hang off their every word. Perhaps being a bit mean to the folk who are genuinely just sharing thoughts, but there-in lies the epiphany. A blog doesn't have to conform, to any pattern or ideal, it's just a space. In this case, my space (ha! I'm sure someone could do something with that, kinda catchy...). "Bloggers" don't have to be a specific odd sub-species of human, they're just the same as everyone else really. 

I don't like rules. I'm not very good with rules at all in fact, so from today on, gone. No more rules. No feeling like I HAVE to put images with my words, no more feeling like I can't pop in with a random thought train. Want images? I have Instagram that serves well on that matter...

73 - TGLE in Pictures

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

It seems that Charlie Gladstone and Co figured out the answer to the age old question of when to have a festival to be guaranteed a gorgeous summers day - have your festival in autumn!

The Good Life Experience was our last camping trip 'til next year, I'm missing being under canvas already. So long summer, you were a good one!

72 - Quitters

Monday, September 28, 2015

- A person who gives up easily or does not have the courage or determination to finish a task:
'he’s no quitter'

I have a sneaky suspicion that at some point in the future that word will be re-defined in the dictionary, and a feeling that the new definition will originate from now.

Let me explain...
I wanted to write a review of The Good Life Experience and have struggled. A mix of already having written this one last year (it would be easy to duplicate the good points) and the wealth of reviews out there with intimidatingly beautiful images (my photography skills continue to be my Achilles heel) and fairly similar glowing reports of free fair rides aplenty, good times under canvas, fresh air and inspiration to get out more and learn new skills have caused "writers block".

That all in mind, I've decided to push on past the photography issue (I'll be doing a round-up later this week as you'll notice there are no images with this post) and get on with it as I wanted to write about the real stars of the show...

Public Service Broadcasting have left us dancing our way to school in the mornings, the Mr's hand is just about healed from where Small sliced in to him during the whittling session with Whittling and Wonder and I'm feeling ready to take on bigger challenges with abseiling after realising that not only do I have no fear when it comes to dangling off a rope at height, but that I also actually really liked it. I also felt so inspired by The Printing Bike Project (and finally meeting Nick Hand after seeing an exhibit designed by him for a public toilet block over a decade ago, loving the Howies "catalogues" that he's worked on and becoming mutual Instagram followers more recently) that I now have an unshiny and old Adana press sat at the end of my desk having finally made the leap to procure one. Music, talks, workshops and fair rides aside, I can't help but feel that the actual real stars of the show are the quitters.

Charlie Gladstone who quit his job in the music industry and Caroline Gladstone who quit her job as a designer at Laura Ashley to live the good life in Scotland to raise a family and a business venture (to become a fleet of business ventures including Pedlars, TGLE, Magnificent Hound, The Glynne Arms and the farm shop), as well as a whole host of speakers and makers who have "quit" in some way shape or form to live "the good life" (I also see a lot of this in the individuals and indie businesses that I work with either collaboratively or as stockists which is wonderful).

I felt a huge sense of pride, walking around the festival and meeting people who had quit their "day job" to follow their dreams and create something, to also call myself a quitter (I quit working as an in-house designer in a marketing team with an almost weekly turnover of throwaway ad campaigns to create things that people would love and want to keep). It was a privilege to meet so many talented and passionate people who not only care about what they do immensely but also care about sharing their trade and their story with others. It's easy to sit as I write this and feel really quite overwhelmed and emotional about the shift in culture that is going on at the moment, the transformation of people from quietly busy office workers and paper pushers to being part of a tribe, people who work and play together with a common interest and who are sharing their stories around campfires and passing on their knowledge. It is a marvellous thing to see evolution unravelling a little to a place that is of conversation, story telling and apprenticing once again.

I feel truly inspired by the shape of things right now and have never been more excited about being a maker and part of a new (r)evolution than I have coming home from a weekend of new connections, chilly nights, relaxed days and good music at this year's Good Life Experience.


Further reading/links:
Read all about the journey Nick Hand and Robin Mather took to the birth place of movable type with The Printing Bike Project.

Luke Hope from Whittling and Wonder via his store "Hope in the Woods".

The adventures of Ben Fogle.

Peckham Print Studio have a meticulous attitude to their work and an infectious enthusiasm for what they do.

Pedlars - Pedlars World is probably overlooked as a blog in its own right but is a great read and a good reflection of the Pedlars brand and ethos.

Simple Things magazine - After being a magazine addict for years I sort of converted to Instagram for connections directly with people and to hear more of the stories that interested me and be able to dip in and out when the chance arises rather than feel bad about another magazine that popped through the door three weeks ago I haven't found time to read. I'm hopeless at setting time aside to get in to things like this and if I do it's probably for a good book instead. That having said, I met Guy Foreman who is one of the co-founders of the magazine and liked his ethos very much.

Alex Pole Ironwork - I am in awe of people that can work with that kind of heat and not burn themselves. I also imagine if you ever want to rob a bank that this guy will be your man as I doubt he has any fingerprints left with the way he handles his work...

Miscellaneous Adventures - Andrew is handy with an axe and knife and teaches people his craft, Emma is great with a piece of waxed cotton and some thread AND makes some awesome dutch oven chilli nachos.

Xanthe Berkley - always happy to chat and inspirational on capturing images.

71 - Instagram

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Alfies Studio Instagram  - work and life shared online
Alfies Studio Instagram  - a mix of life, work, adventures and botanical findings

I seem to live my life in 640px squares at the moment. Always looking for the next capture, addicted to sharing my finds.


It could possibly be seen as a slightly unhealthy obsession - that compulsion to just have another look at what's new in your feed... (because something monumental may have gone off in Instaworld in the three minutes since you last checked - right?). Be that as it may, it's also a lifeline to solopreneurs, a marketing tool for the mini brands with no marketing department (or endless buckets of cash) and a way of meeting likeminded individuals without being thought of as a geek or serial killer.

I'm not great at blogging, any of you who've been checking in here for a while know that my posting is sketchy at best, that words don't always come particularly easy to me, but Instagram, that I can do.

If you don't already, head on over to Instagram to follow my account where I post regularly on life, work and my fascination with botanicals. Reach out and say hello, that is my very favourite part of Instagram, finally social media that is actually social.

70 - What is "Feminine" Anyway?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sara Taker of Me and Orla portrait taken by Xanthe Berkley

Instagram has opened my world up to lots of lovely people over the last 18 months or so and one of them is the lovely Sara of "Me and Orla". I was casually reading her blog this morning (check it out here) and felt compelled to write to tell her of my thoughts on one of her comments. As I started writing I felt like I wanted to share it with you as what it addresses has been drifting through my mind over the past couple of months as something I wanted to get into here. Without further ado...

Reading the Object Style giveaway post this morning. The bit about fashion not flaunting or flattering really struck a chord with me. I used to be a size 8-10 at uni and then when I left and moved in with the Mr everything got way too comfortable (or really uncomfortable in the case of my clothing and visual identity). Too many late nights dining and drinking, too many lazy weekends sleeping off the night before and then eventually three pregnancies (two of which had complications that caused me to be H-U-G-E  - look up polyhydramnios - 3l of fluid bulks you out considerably) have not helped my cause any. It's something I really struggle with now and find myself reverting to my old tom-boy ways - sweaters and boyf jeans, partially to cover up a multitude of sins left on my body by life and over a decade of abusing it, but mostly due to not being good with dresses and dignity (how can I romp through the woods and climb rocks in a dress without exposing myself - serious question).

I struggle with what is flattering and feminine and the notion of why I should look "feminine" is a complex one that no matter how hard I try, I just can't reason with. I do know that it irritates me that stereotypes threaten to encroach on my being able to live and look how I like. I want to live an active lifestyle, bouldering with my kids, running in and out of the sea, hiking and tumbling through woods and I should do all of this in what? I have yet to find a pair of walking trousers that fit my shape and I like (I'm just not in to hefty or horrid fabrics or a billion pockets which seem to be the only things available to my fit) and shockingly so much of whats "out there" involves some form of pink. Because I'm a girl (woman? I lost track somewhere early twenties when I couldn't figure out if I was a grown up or not) I must obviously devour pink for breakfast... Yes, I'd like to look good, no, I don't want to wear pink. Yes, I'd like my clothes to be functional, but I also want them to flatter. Comfort to me is about not worrying about how my leftover belly (that I've been told only surgery will fix) looks at a moment in time when I'm moving as well as being able to move with ease.

So often we are manipulated in to believing that we must be long wavy haired earth mother goddesses or waif model like girls about the city, red carpet ready from 7am. I'm neither, I'm both, I'm more than that, I think.

The hunt for who I am via how I dress continues, as does the hunt for clothes that flatter and fit well. Eventually I may even figure out what femininity means to me (and stop raging against the likes of certain celebrities who purport to be "feminists" but seem to use that stance to hide that they are using their sexuality to further their ambitions, but that's a different post entirely I think).

For now, I'm just happy and content to be surrounded by people who are beginning to break stereotype myths and please themselves.

Sara's portrait as taken by the lovely Xanthe Berkley who I had the good fortune to meet at last years Good Life Experience in North Wales.

69 - New Stockist - Botany

Monday, May 04, 2015

Back in March I had the pleasure of discovering Botany via the Toast Instagram feed (@toasttravels). Botany is now not only firmly placed on my list of indie shops to visit when I finally make it to London in early summer but also, proudly, the newest Alfies Studio stockist.

Botany is inspired by beautiful living, founded in 2014 by Angela Maynard and is a concept lifestyle store housing a carefully curated selection of plants, flowers & design-led items for the home.

Head on over to the website to see what Botany is all about or pop in to the store on Chatsworth Road in Hackney, London.

All images via www.botanyshop.co.uk

68 - The Good Life Experience 2015

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Gladstones and Cerys Matthews are at it again!

Following on from last year's brilliant Good Life Experience (see the review here) the team have been putting together an event that is set to be even bigger and better this year!

With a heavy Cuban influence, more craft workshops and demonstrations to inspire and some fabulously inspirational people in attendance (Ben Fogle anyone?!) I'm sure by the end of the weekend we'll all be planning our next adventures or returning home with a few new skills up our sleeves.

We're looking forward to; Cuban cocktails, Ben Fogle, Bill Granger, Carbecue, endless fairground rides, axe throwing, abseiling and bushcraft. We'll be camping this year too to make the most of the evening festivities and the extension of the festival to cover Friday and Sunday at the main site.

You can get tickets at early bird prices until Monday so be quick and head on over to Pedlars for yours. That having said it's the most reasonably priced festival I've come across and under 8's are free! Family and financially friendly, because the good life really is for everyone.

All images supplied by Pedlars / The Good Life Experience. Even the last one with my son in!

Please Note - This is NOT a sponsored or paid post.
I'm promoting this event because quite frankly, it's going to be brilliant if last year is anything to go by. I've built up a working relationship with Charlie Gladstone through working on projects for Pedlars (see my collaborations page on my shop if you are interested) and wanted to help spread the news of his excellent work on this project.

If you have a project / festival / product that you think I and readers of this blog would be interested in, I'd be happy to feature that too (if I think it'd be a good fit) - get in touch.

67 - Digital Spring Clean

Friday, May 01, 2015

Alfies Studio Paper Echoes Cards - You're the Seagull to My Chips
Alfies Studio Letter Writing Stationery Set - Envelopes and A5 writing paper
Alfies Studio Memo Note Cards Stationery
Alfies Studio Telegram Note Cards with Envelopes
Alfies Studio test tubes for creating wedding favours

With the lighter days come sunshine filled rooms. With sunshine filled rooms comes the realisation that your home has become a spider metropolis over winter. Instead of reaching for the duster or getting those suckers vacuumed up (because with dusting you're just flapping the "fluff" around, right?) I started to think about my online residence (shop) and digital files on my computer. Anyone that follows me on Instagram will know that I'm constantly re-jigging my bookshelves to be able to fit more books in, get rid of old books we're never reading again and generally tidy up and I hit the point when I felt like I needed to do the same with my digital assets as well as my product range.

I spent Easter weekend photographing (and coming up with a few new) products and re-jigging my shop site to be a bit more user friendly, tell you what you want to know in as little time as possible (because you need to be creating adventures to share rather than spending a long time shopping for stuff to share them with) and generally get it together. It was time well spent. I feel so much better about my online presentation of myself and my products / services I'm gonna celebrate by busting out the vacuum first thing in the morning.

Above are some of the new goods added to the site recently. Head over to the shop to take a look, I'd love to know what you think.

Also, in celebration of National Stationery Week and the Bank Holiday weekend take 10% off all orders over £5 til Tuesday 5th May with code SPRINGBANK. You're welcome.

66 - Spring

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Alfies Studio - Daffodils

I've had it in my mind for some time now that I wanted to write a very specific post today. Something profound that would touch you, maybe even move you to donate some of your hard earned money to a charity that really deserves a lot more publicity than it gets (Sands), or help other stillbirth survivors finding this post through the magic of google. Somehow, the fire and passion to do that just isn't there. It seems to have relinquished its power and turned to barely glowing embers.

At this point seven years ago I was sitting in a stuffy and overcrowded antenatal clinic, waiting for an ultrasound scan to see if my baby was breech. The Mr reading his Stephen King book and I daydreaming (probably about getting to bathe little toes in a week or so with the baby being due in a few days). I had no idea that my life was about to change in a completely incomprehensible way forever.

All these years later, the birds have begun to sing again. I think they stopped as I watched a Robin gather food in the hospital garden while we were waiting. Life left me in lots of ways that day, but somehow, it seems it's finally spring.

65 - New Stockist - Hero

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I've been a bit slow to share (appologies) but am pleased to announce that the lovely ladies at Hero are the latest addition to the Alfies Studio stockists list. Their Hampshire based fashion and lifestyle store is about curating items with a timeless style and easy elegance that elevates the everyday, in other words, a perfect fit for Alfies Studio.

All images taken from Hero social media and web site.

64 - Underworld Live

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A teenage dancing queen. Music to write a dissertation to. Festivals, early twenties. A Neoclassical courtyard, a Wesleyan Chapel. Typographic champions. Tomato. Mmm... Skyscraper, I love you. His energy is infectious. I dance because I can't help it. No longer a slinky girl, but I don't care.

Rabbit warren Albert Hall - I want to visit you in the daylight and explore. Underworld - I promise not to leave it so long til the next time.

63 - Mountains

Friday, February 13, 2015

Alfies Studio Blog Post 63 - Mountains - Snowdon
Alfies Studio Blog Post 63 - Mountains - Ben Nevis
Alfies Studio Blog Post 63 - Mountains - Ben Nevis
Alfies Studio Blog Post 63 - Mountains - Scafell
Alfies Studio Blog Post 63 - Mountains - Sigiriya
Alfies Studio Blog Post 63 - Mountains - Cadair Idris
Alfies Studio Blog Post 63 - Mountains - Cadair Idris

Lately I've been getting out more, investing in some new clothes (I've become a little North Face obsessed...) to take me back to the old me and have enjoying putting one foot in front of the other.

I've always been a walker, always loved being outdoors and roaming for hours on end. The past couple of years I lost my way a little, drifted away from who I am and if I'm honest took a leave of absence from living at all during the dark times. Somehow now I feel like I'm back, I've returned to my former self and I'm done with surviving and ready to start living again, more than that, catching up on lost time and making it all count. I've been through the toughest, hardest, worst time of my life and feel like if I've been there and done all that I can somehow manage almost anything.

Being honest, over the past decade I've let myself go. The hardest part of fixing that is realising it in the first place. I'm walking around ten miles a week now (not including the general up and down and round the house which, being four storeys tall probably notches up a mile or two without even really trying) and determined to get fit enough to hike mountains again by increasing this little by little (along with turning that extra length in to extra altitude).

To see where I'm hiking (usually on Sundays) follow me on over on Instagram.

From top to bottom: Snowdon - Wales, Ben Nevis - Scotland, Ben Nevis - Scotland, Scafell - England,  and a couple I've already done: Lion's Rock, Sigiriya - Sri Lanka (not technically a mountain but uber cool all the same and a difficult "climb" up), Cadair Idris - Wales, Cadair Idris - Wales. These images are not my own and the original sources can be found by clicking through.

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